I read a good article in Search Data Backup recently on an interview Sarah Wilson conducted with Jon Toigo on LTFS (Linear Tape File System).  LTFS is an open standard technology that allows you to use tape like NAS – drag and drop files to and from the tape, quickly access them from a directory on your screen, easily exchange them between different operating systems and software, etc.  The interview provides a good overview of LTFS and where it’s being used, and he also shoots down some of the misconceptions about tape that I often hear.

LTFS demonstrates the innovation that we continue to see in tape, one of the points highlighted by the Tape Storage Council in a memo issued last week.  The Council – made up of tape providers from across the industry, including Quantum – talked about the “pivotal and expanding role” that tape plays in today’s data centers for long-term data retention.  Among other things, the memo referenced:

  • Interesting uses of tape by different organizations, including the National Institute of Health, Major League Baseball and USC.
  • Tape capacity shipments reaching a record level in 2012 of more than 20,000 PB (that’s 20 EB), with projected growth of over 25% this year.
  • Tape still being the most cost-effective technology for long-term data retention, providing a savings of more than 80% vs. disk for 5 PB of archive data over a 10-year period.

All of this is consistent with what I hear when I talk to customers – while disk is increasingly the preferred choice for backup, customers continue to depend on tape for their long-term archive and data retention needs.  At the same time, those in industries such as media and entertainment, intelligence, oil and gas, and life sciences view tape as essential for storing and protecting the massive data volumes they generate.  This was certainly the case at the recent International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam.  With all the new data generated from HD cameras and the focus on re-monetizing content in different ways, storing everything on disk simply isn’t feasible from a cost standpoint.   For example, Poland’s leading pay-TV provider, nc+, has 200 TB of disk available for archiving but 1.5 PB of archived content, which it expects to grow by another petabyte in the next year.  As result, they use one of our StorNext AEL Archives systems, a tape library specially optimized for big data environments.

Our StorNext AELs are just one example of Quantum leadership and innovation in tape.  We’re the worldwide market share leader in open systems tape automation; our Scalar i500 library passed the $1 billion revenue threshold this summer; and our OEM partners include the likes of Dell, HP and IBM.  We pioneered the idea of the smart tape library more than a decade ago, and we’re still moving the technology forward with features like full redundancy, unmatched density and advanced media status reporting.  Our libraries even proactively monitor media integrity and automatically migrate data to new tapes if they see an increase in error rates.

One reason for our success is that we’ve consistently designed innovative systems that easily integrate tape into larger solutions sets – for example:

  • When we developed our DXi backup and deduplication appliances, we were unique in providing a direct path from the disk to tape.
  • Our vmPRO software leverages our Scalar LTFS tape technology to provide user-accessible, searchable archive capabilities for VMware data.
  • Our new StorNext 5 end-to-end content management solution provides native support for LTFS.

This holistic approach is one we’ll continue to pursue as we move forward, leveraging our expertise not only to bring new tape offerings to market but also to ensure customers can take full advantage of tape’s benefits as part of their evolving storage strategies and architectures.

Want to Learn More?

Read our Customer Success Story about how Daktronics has created a Tiered Storage approach with Tape.

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